Alex Watson

The Press and Journal

Alex Watson is Head of Comment for The Press and Journal and has worked as a journalist in Scotland for eight years, latterly showing a great passion and talent for the art of column writing. This is reflected in her recent nomination for the competitive Nicola Barry Award at the 43rd Scottish Press Awards, as well as her win at the Write To End Violence Against Women Public Recognition Awards in 2021.

Usually drawing on her own past experiences in her work, she is unafraid to be vulnerable in order to address important issues. The overwhelmingly positive response to much of her writing from the public and press alike suggests that Scotland has been waiting patiently for a mould-breaking columnist like Alex for some time. Alex’s powerful and unique disarming relatability invites the reader to recognise themselves or people they know without feeling exposed. Her informal, often quirky style relaxes, though she doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable truths, particularly around societal hypocrisy. This is demonstrated in the column “Repairing trust in authority needs effort and emotion, not just efficiency”. Following on from an earlier piece about being sexually assaulted, this column turns the spotlight on the lack of compassion Alex received from police during the aftermath of her experience. This article coincided with wider criticism of that institution and highlights that - even when ticking all administrative boxes - there are fundamental issues with the system. From one flawed system to another, in “Too many of us are left to navigate mental health issues alone”, Alex opens up about her 14-year struggle with anxiety and calls for more funding and joined-up thinking when it comes to Scotland’s mental health services. Writing candidly, though with flashes of humorous respite, she warns that the overall psychological impact of the Covid pandemic will be devastating. Readers said this column made them feel less alone and prompted meaningful conversations - another step towards breaking the cycle of unfair stigma surrounding mental health issues. Mental health crops up again in “You should be less rude – and everything else Scott Hutchison taught me that I don’t want to forget”. A tribute to beloved Scottish artist, musician and former Frightened Rabbit frontman, Scott Hutchison (who took his own life in 2018), Alex explains the massive impact he had on her - a stranger - through his lyrics and his kind actions. During his tragically short life, Scott was open about his own mental health struggles, and his art helped many people, including Alex herself, through their own dark days. Countless fans said this column perfectly captured their own feelings, which they had previously been unable to articulate. But, such is the universal appeal of Alex’s work, even those who had never heard of the band or its late singer were moved by this column’s main message.